Jim hangs up his suits but Leckie’s lives on

Jim Leckie in the  Melville Street shop which his family has run for over 50 years''Picture: Michael Gillen
Jim Leckie in the Melville Street shop which his family has run for over 50 years''Picture: Michael Gillen

One of Falkirk’s best-known retailers has decided to call it a day after deciding he was at the end of his ‘shelf life’.

But customers of James Leckie’s emporium in Melville Street needn’t worry as the business will continue trading, albeit with another owner behind the counter.

Known for its vast array of stock, hanging from the ceiling or sold from boxes piled on the floor, the shop has a reputation as a bargain hunter’s dream.

It has become a Falkirk institution since first opened in 1964 by James Leckie senior.

His son explained: “My dad was a chimney sweep but hurt his knee and couldn’t climb on roofs. He had the idea of opening an auction room selling surplus stock and you could have 400 people in here on a Saturday afternoon.”

The auction side of the business eventually ended and instead the goods, everything from socks to casserole dishes, handbags to Italian wool suits, were sold with prices scribbled on pieces of card.

Jim never planned to enter the family business, training as a zoologist at Glasgow and London University. However, a lack of job openings in that field saw him return home in the early 1970s.

He said: “I thought about teacher training but it never happened and instead I got involved in the business.

“I thought the way forward was buying job lots and selling them on. It was a niche market which no-one else was doing at that time. A network of contacts was built up by literally knocking on doors and asking if people had anything to sell.”

Not that he takes everything proffered: “I was once offered a job lot of parrots which I declined. I’ve always looked for good quality, branded goods where possible.

“We’re known for outdoor clothing and equipment and quality clothing. People travel from all over to shop here.”

One of his most unusual sales ended up in the home of Italian actress Sophia Loren. A marble Neapolitan mastiff was bought by someone who later sold it on to her husband. Watching a TV programme about the actress one day, Jim (68) saw she was sitting with the statue placed by her chair.

He added: “It used to sit at the door of our shop and here it was in her luxurious home.”

Married to Irene, the couple live in Reddingmuirhead and have two daughters, Amy and Anne, and two granddaughters.

He plans to retire in April – “it’s the right time. I’ve reached the end of my shelf life”.

The business is being taken over by Stephen Carr of Falkirk, who plans to give the shop a bit of a makeover, but retain its name.

Stephen said: “After all, everyone knows where Leckie’s is in the town.”